On any given day, medical professionals heal the sick, tend to the wounded, and prepare their patients to hear that their lives are coming to an end. There is no way that anyone would be able to stomach this kind of job if they weren't driven by care and compassion.
As with any profession, there are a few things that they don't feel that enough people know about how difficult their jobs really are. A Plus reached out to medical professionals including paramedics, nurses, physician's assistants, and doctors to ask what they wish their patients knew.
Because every single person will require the care of these amazing professionals throughout their lives, heed their words and make their jobs a little easier.
1. They really do care about their patients.
"I really do care. Even when I'm busy. Even when I forget. Even when I have to walk away. Just know I became a nurse to help people and want more than anything to make you well again."
"Truth is, I want you to go home just as much as you do. And no, it's not because I'm sick of you or you're a bad patient. It's because I became a nurse to help heal people. That means making you well enough to go home. So when I say I'm excited that you're going home, that's not a bad thing."
"I wish patients knew that nurses care more than they could ever imagine or ever give them credit for."
"There always has to be something cheesy about how people are in the profession because we care, which we do (otherwise we wouldn't be able to tolerate a tenth of the stuff we do), but don't be surprised if you see us leaving work laughing and joking. We do get sad and feel bad sometimes, but if we let every sad or difficult moment derail us, there'd be no one left. Humor is a way for people to stay normal and not become calloused."
"The truth of the matter is that being a nurse is not my career, it's my heart and soul. I love what I do and don't just care for my patients with the skills I've obtained through school and experience, but with every fiber of my being."
2. Stay off of the internet.
"Stay away from Google. Stay so far away from it."
"For the love of God, quit looking up, and referencing Google about your medical problems; this is what we are here for. Stop looking up all of your symptoms on the Internet and wasting our time both with your story about what it told you, and the time needed to refute all of your fears because now you 'have cancer.' Leave the diagnosing to the professionals."
"Be careful where you get your information. Mommy blogs are generally full of garbage, and those who tout alternative medicine the loudest usually benefit from the sales of supplements on their websites."
3. Yes, they run late sometimes, but it's not why you think.
"Most nurses have to juggle anywhere from 5 to 35 patients at a time. So you are not my only patient. I wish you were my only patient. I would actually love to give you that one on one care that you feel like you deserve. But I can't."
"I wish patients knew that we don't mean to be late getting to them or we didn't 'forget about them.' We can't plan every task, education, procedure, etc. out to the minute. There are times when a patient needs that extra time before we can move into the next patient. We don't mean to make you wait and it is not that we don't want to care for you.... We just needed a little extra time with another patient."
"Stop complaining about the wait. We, as physicians, know that nobody wants to come to the office and wait for service. We don't want to have to jam-pack people into one day just to make a living. It is an inconvenience that is put upon us by our wonderful governing bodies. With Medicaid and Medicare setting the standard for reimbursement, not only is a difficult to collect the money that is entitled to us, sometimes the payers decide that we will not get reimbursed for certain services. Decreased reimbursement forces us to see more patients to make ends meet."
"Understand when we're late, there is a reason. People have emergencies, crises, etc. that keeps us. Just understand when it happens to you that the same attention will be given to you then."
"Please don't assume you're the only patient. I deal with 30-40 patients face to face and more than just your one phone call. If it takes a few days and it's not an emergency, work with me a little."
4. Take control of your own health as much as you can.
"We are trained, as an institution, to give you the best recommendations based on scientific studies. Our recommendations are simply no more than that… Recommendations. You are the one that ultimately makes the decision about your healthcare. There is no better embodiment of the saying "you can lead a horse to water". If you do not want to listen to our recommendations, that is perfectly fine, because ultimately it is your life that your decision affects."
"I wish they knew that we aren't there to torture them by making them walk when they hurt. There really is a benefit to pushing you through your pain, I promise!"
"I also wish patients knew that what happens between a nurse/doctor is a partnership. There isn't a magical pill to fix everything. As a patient you have to work with the heath care provider to better your health. You also need to communicate what it is you are willing to do and what your goals are. Teamwork and communication will better your health and provide better outcomes."
"If you are obese and we tell you to lose weight, we don't say that to make you feel bad. We say it because it isn't healthy, and your health is our primary concern. When you don't do anything to help yourself, you limit how much we are able to help you."
5. Don't be so quick to judge when you don't think they look busy.
"When we are staring at a computer screen and typing, yes we are doing work, it's called charting about all the things you've done today and that I've had to do for you, so the jokes like 'Oh, you sure do spend a lot of time on that computer, haha' get old."
"No one seems to realize that their basic biological needs come before my own, and sometimes it's like, 'I haven't been able to eat or pee for 8 hours!' We're constantly giving things to patients, food, meds, our time to listen, and half our days we don't take a break."
"I don't get a lunch hour. There are many work days when I will go 13 hours without getting to eat at all."
6. Understand the scope of their practice.
"No, I can't just get you more meds because you want them and have already had what your ordered to have. Your doctor may possibly—if they are in good mood—order you a higher dose or something stronger but they probably won't (just being honest). And no, I can't just sneak you some extra."
"I wish they knew that despite the fact that we are nurses and work in the medical field, we aren't doctors (though some of us are pretty good at pointing doctors in the right direction for your care!). And also, just because we work in the medical field does not mean that we can diagnose Aunt Edna's foot, or Uncle Arthur's change in bowel habits. We don't know everything, despite our best efforts."
7. The current insurance system is a mess, and everyone knows it.
"I have no control over what your insurance is willing to pay for. I don't understand insurance any more than you do. And no, I don't base how well I care for you based on how "good" or "bad" your insurance is. Odds are, I have no clue what type of insurance you have nor does it make any difference to me. And no, I don't make anymore money even if you do have great insurance."
"Most people don't understand how insurance and healthcare works. If something isn't going through it's not necessarily the doctor's office's fault. The insurance is well controlling what doctors offices are able to do now. So you might just need to call your insurance company and figure it out. It will make the process much smoother."
"We are not the reason health care costs are high. Physicians get a bad reputation as greedy, money hungry robots who don't care about their patients. Fact of the matter is physicians are actually getting paid less and less. Hospital costs, supplies, and decreased insurance reimbursement are mostly to blame for rising costs. There is a reason there is a physician shortage, and that is because compensation for physicians is not as promising as it once was. It's pretty sad when cardiologists have to file bankruptcy due to overwhelming costs for insurance, overhead, rent, office staff, etc. Medicine has become more efficient, yet the cost is continuing to rise with decreased physician compensation. Where does the money go? Not in our pockets."
8. They know when you're full of it.
"Pain management is one of the most of obnoxious and predictable complaints. The problem with pain is that it is not an actual thing; it is a perceived sensation. That means, by definition, everyone will experience pain differently. But there are a couple guidelines to live by. [...] There is a reason that 10 is used as the "worst pain you've ever felt." If you [claim you] are in 10/10 pain and playing Candy Crush, you get no medication. If you come into the emergency room and ask for Dilaudid and a sandwich, you get neither. We want to treat your pain, but don't make it a dramatization. And if you are just pain medication seeking, well then you just suck."
"Don't be a jerk to the rest of the office staff and assume I didn't just hear about it. Patients will put on a completely different face when I walk in, but they were just jerks to the nurse or the front desk, whatever."
9. They are highly trained and skilled. Trust their judgment.
"Quit believing TV commercials. Commercials made by lawyers regarding the side effect profile of medication are not worth the time to discuss. Please don't come into the office and asked me if the medication you're on is safe. It is my job to weigh the risks versus benefits, and the side effect profile of the medication has thoroughly been considered. I don't care what Keller & Keller has to say about that particular medication."
"Vaccinate your kids. Unless there is a specific medical reason not to, there is no intelligent reason not to do it."
10. Be honest.
"We don't care that you do drugs. I mean, we do care for the sake of your health, but legally speaking, who cares? Unless you have a controlled substance agreement, you're not going to get in any trouble for divulging information regarding illegal substance use. In certain circumstances, it is imperative that we know. IV drug use can lead to infections in the bloodstream and heart. Cocaine use can lead to myocardial infarction. Many mind-altering substances can lead to neurologic side effects. It is better that we know what has gone into your system, than you hide it. We are not the police."
"If you don't tell me the truth about everything that I ask (even if it's embarrassing, we have to know!), then don't be pissed off when you have a bad reaction to a new med or treatment. There is nothing you can tell me that I haven't heard before. There is nothing you can show me that I haven't seen before."